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Updated at 9:40am — Mistrial Declared in Ex-Cop’s Case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Las Cruces jury unable to reach verdict on felony charges against man accused of assaulting girlfriend.

State District Judge Doug Driggers declared a mistrial Thursday after jurors were unable to reach a verdict on three felony charges facing a former Las Cruces police officer who was accused of assaulting his girlfriend, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

A jury of six men and six women deliberated for about two hours before declaring themselves unable to reach a verdict on the felony counts, the Sun-News said.

But jurors did find 26-year-old Loren Barela guilty of interference with communications, a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, the paper reported.

A conviction on the felony counts could have meant up to six years in prison, the Sun-News said.

Assistant District Attorney Nelson Goodin said he was disappointed in the outcome, saying "These are difficult cases because of the emotions involved and there's no eyewitnesses."

Goodin said today that a decision is pending on whether to retry Barela on charges of aggravated assault against a household member with a firearm enhancement, aggravated battery against a household member with great bodily harm and false imprisonment, The Associated Press is reporting. 

5:50am 8/20/08 — Former Las Cruces Cop on Trial: Ex-officer is charged with being in possession of steroids, assaulting girlfriend.

Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of Loren Barela, 26, a former Las Cruces police officer who is charged with being in possession of steroids and assaulting his longtime girlfriend on June 1, 2007, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

Barela was arrested on June 8, 2007, and charged with eight counts, including aggravated assault, aggravated battery and possession of a controlled substance, the Sun-News said.

Court records say Barela allegedly grabbed his girlfriend of five years by the hair, pushed her face into a toilet and threatened her with a pistol, then squeezed her neck so hard she couldn't scream, the paper reported.

He was placed on administrative leave following his arrest and later left the police force, where he had been employed since 2006, according to the Sun-News.

The trial before state District Judge Doug Driggers is expected to wrap up on Thursday, the Sun-News said.